Father to be Jack learns that his father has been killed in a gruesome car accident and he travels home to go take care of things and help his mother get better. Once home, he discovers long buried secrets about his family and himself. Written and directed by actor Thomas Dekker, the film centers around the character of Jack as he comes to grip with his father’s passing and his past as he discovers bits and pieces of it while working on getting his mother back into shape. The character of Jack is nicely complex and he is a good representation of what a man may go through when losing his father. This is of course not as simple as it seems, especially given that it is considered drama, thriller, and horror. The film develops themes that fit all three of those categories and themes that connect with audiences.
The loss of a parent is a hard enough on its own, adding his mother being hurt, and the past, the film works with a full plate of issues and manages to make it all make sense. The horror elements come into play later in the film, once the story has lulled you in a comfortable place, adding to their impact. The bulk of the film rests on the lead’s performance. Rory Culkin plays Jack and works with the material beautifully well. He gives a conflicted performance and adds layers to it and the process of his character’s grieving. Playing his mother, a woman who just lost her husband and got injured in the same accident, is the always great Lin Shaye. Here she gives a performance somewhere between desperation, grief, and flat out losing her mind. As she has played mildly to completely crazy characters many times before, what makes this performance different is that the shade of crazy she goes for here is more subtle at first and it builds as the film advances.
She shows just the right amount of restraint and bat shit craziness depending on the scenes. She shows her grief and her attempt to cope in different ways while also trying (and failing) to get her son in a better place. It must be noted that no one in the cast is off note or sticks out negatively. The ensemble gives good performances with good amounts and levels of emotions. The film’s story being set in Colorado mostly, the countryside is shown in almost an idyllic manner with the family house being a central location and looking majestic in the greenery surrounding it. Austin F. Schmidt’s cinematography shows this location and this house in a manner that gives it presence and makes it almost a character.
The inside of the house is also well shown, letting the viewer discover the house part by part, room by room, keeping some mystery to it and its contents as long as possible. The horror in this film is more psychological than physical. There are some physical parts, but they are minimal. The effects for these look to have been handled by the make-up department as Dayeon Kang and Robin Weisel are the only ones with make-up credits and there are no effects credits on the film’s IMDB page.
Jack Goes Home is a drama with touches of horror that surprises the viewer by taking its time in establishing its characters before throwing a wrench in the proceedings and taking the audience for a ride. The film looks great and has very good performances that grab you and make you want to see what happens next, how it ends.